Gonzalez: Braves not considering sending Uggla to minors

This pitch in Houston almost hit Dan Uggla. He needs a few more to hit the bat. (AP photo)

Dan Uggla managed to dodge this pitch in Houston but he needs several more to start hitting the bat. (AP photo)

Dan Uggla is less than three months into a five-years, $62 million contract — and he’s not going anywhere.

I normally wouldn’t be passing along something that should seem obvious. But with the backdrop of Uggla’s struggles, I’ve had so many readers ask me, “Why not just send him down to the minors?” So it seemed time to address it with someone on the Braves.

I posed this question to manager Fredi Gonzalez following Thursday’s win over the New York Mets: Is it too early to even consider something like sending him to Gwinnett?

“We haven’t reached that point,” he said. “We haven’t even had a conversation about that. This is the first time anybody’s even mentioned it.”

And then this: “We’re trying. He’s trying. He’s battling. The season’s not over with.”

For what it’s worth, even if the Braves believed that sending Uggla to Triple-A Gwinnett could help him get his confidence back, that’s a move the veteran second baseman would have to sign off on.

Here’s your ugly numbers blitz: Uggla went 0-for-5 Thursday night.  He stranded five base runners. His season average is down to .174. In the last four weeks, he is hitting .139 (11-for-79). He is hitting .127 with runners in scoring position and .184 with runners on base.

Gonzalez has tried him in six different spots in the batting order (Nos. 2 through 7), as well as sat him out altogether.

Uggla’s nine homers and 19 RBIs in 70 games project to 21 homers and 44 RBIs over a full season. He averaged 31 homers, 93 RBIs and a .263 average in Florida.

But for now, he’s staying here. How long the Braves choose to stick this out depends in part on how well the team does and whether the situation ever becomes desperate (in their view). But they’re not there yet.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

184 comments Add your comment

ted williams head

June 17th, 2011
10:48 am

cant believe that. Gwinnett could get him smne confidence back. this makes my head hurt which is really bad

PMC

June 17th, 2011
10:48 am

I’m kind of wondering how Frank Wren feels about this since he essentially stuck his own neck out with that contract.

No one can really argue he had the track record for what we thought we needed in the lineup. Add this trade to the McClouth trade and the Kawakami disaster, there’s a lot of dead money not helping this team win right now.

It happens, everyone makes mistakes and Wren has been brilliant rebuilding the rotation, but seriously, this has to give him ulcers.

Hankie Aron

June 17th, 2011
10:52 am

JS- I don’t think it ever gets that desperate to send him to AAA this year. Maybe even next year too, all that the Braves and Uggla can do is keep working trying to get him better at least for this season.

Rankin Smith

June 17th, 2011
10:52 am

Enter your comments hereTHIRD!!

Supes

June 17th, 2011
10:52 am

He should get till around the ALL STAR break…if this continues then by all means send him down and start Conrad at 2B till Uggla gets it figured out. You don’t forget how to hit all of a sudden…this is puzzling in more ways than one. Braves need Dan Uggla’s bat in the lineup to contend…but he’s not hitting like himself.

Either way his lack of run production is damaging to the offense right now…pitchers no longer fear him…they go after him, he chases and gets himself out most of the time.

norman

June 17th, 2011
10:53 am

It is what it is with Uggla. He aint goin no where.

Hankie Aron

June 17th, 2011
10:54 am

PMC I agree, he has some good and some bad. This one hurts equally as bad as Mclouth and KK. To be honest KK being the worst because KK’s days with the Braves are over.

Mike Jay

June 17th, 2011
10:54 am

PMC “No one can really argue he had the track record for what we thought we needed in the lineup. ”

????

We needed a right handed power hitter and he was easily the best available. He is second in HR behind Pujols in the last 5 years. That is a hell of a track record. Plus we got him cheaper then he would have commanded in FA. Wren did not make a mistake with this trade and signing. Uglla just needs to perform to his standards, Wren can’t control that and any GM would have made the same move if they could.

Dawgdad (The Original)

June 17th, 2011
10:55 am

Uggla needs a break of some kind to get his mind right. He could work on his swing when his mind gets past his struggles. Find an excuse to put him on the DL and let him rehab for a week or so.

Hankie Aron

June 17th, 2011
10:59 am

Mclouth has a little time to at least be serviceable although Shafer may limit his playing time. I know I’m beating a dead horse but I do think Uggla will turn it around at least to hit .235 or .240. I can’t see him staying under the Mendoza line all season long.

Dave

June 17th, 2011
11:00 am

I like Uggla but if McClouth comes back and hits and Schafer stays hot, then move Prado to 2nd and let those two play in the OF. I agree though, Uggla needs to strain an abdominal muscle and get on the DL

Spud Webb

June 17th, 2011
11:00 am

Dawgdad, I agree, put him on the DL, let him go down to FLA for some extended spring training and just relax and work on the string.
Supes, if we get to the point of this “and start Conrad at 2B” we’re in GIANT, GIANT trouble. Can’t and shouldn’t happen.

PMC

June 17th, 2011
11:01 am

Isn’t that what I said Mike? I know he can’t control any of that, but baseball contracts are guaranteed. So not only can he not control that, he can’t get out of it, if Uggla never remembers how to hit. This is fairly crushing for a team on a budget.

Mike Jay

June 17th, 2011
11:01 am

His ego has got to bruised, that’s at least worth a 10 day stint on the DL, no?

Bob Rathbun

June 17th, 2011
11:01 am

He looks terrible at the plate. What do you think Stinger??

Sonny Clusters

June 17th, 2011
11:03 am

We would have wrote something earlier and claimed first but we was slowed by a bad adductor. This is our first adductor poblem but we didn’t know we had one until we hurt it. Right now, Clusters is day to day. We was thinking a lot about Uggla since when he comes up to bat the only one that doesn’t seem to know what is going to happen is him. We was thinking he might change his batting stance and make more use of his adductor. Let us know what you think.

Jason Heyward

June 17th, 2011
11:04 am

I don’t want to talk about Dan Uggla. I want to talk about Chipper Jones. What Chipper needs to realize is that Chipper, at 80 percent is a force, and Chipper at 80 percent is better than a lot of people in this league, so I don’t want to hear any more about some strained adductor muscle, or any day to day crap. If necessary, I’ll get John Smoltz to have a talk with him.

LeifJohnson

June 17th, 2011
11:04 am

Why has nobody been talking about Parrish? It’s not like Uggla is the only Brave to have a bad average and not hitting. The bench has been atrocious and McCann is the only regular even close to a .300 average. Until last night and the Houston series this team looked like a Triple A team at the plate. At least Schafer looks like he is coming along but even with his good work he is still at .256.

Hankie Aron

June 17th, 2011
11:04 am

DL for a week or so sounds like a good idea to me but I don’t know if he would go for that. He is a high character guy who is tougher on himself than any blogger or journalist could ever be. I’m sure it’s killing him to struggle like he has. He was a Rule 5 draft pick so he has always been the underdog. Maybe he could give some of that money back and restructure his deal so that he feels more like the player he was when he first come up with Marlins. That’s crazy. Who knows

Bob Rathbun

June 17th, 2011
11:05 am

He should just start calling his shot every time he steps to the plate. That ought to do it :)

Mike Jay

June 17th, 2011
11:05 am

PMC,

your track record line is what confused me. Were talkign about Uggla not having a track record worth the contract or Wren not having a track record? If wren how so?

i think If Wren wanted he would find plenty of takers on trading uggla. So he is not stuck per say. It would be a stupid move most likely though as I think he will turn things around. Heyward being back should help him see some better pitches. Right now he is lacking patience and swinging at junk, his swing reminds of Klesko’s.

PMC

June 17th, 2011
11:05 am

Mike :) indeed, and I would have made the deal too.

Mario Mendoza

June 17th, 2011
11:06 am

Come on Dan….go to Gwinnett..work things out or u know whats gonna happen?From now on it will be named after u instead of me….the Dan Uggla line

Jeff Schultz

June 17th, 2011
11:07 am

Hankie Aron — You’re probably right. Hard to imagine him in minors.

PMC

June 17th, 2011
11:07 am

I meant that Uggla did have the track record as a player that the Braves wanted in the lineup. On paper he was perfect. They couldn’t have done much better since they could move Prado to Left.

Hankie Aron

June 17th, 2011
11:07 am

Maybe the All Star break lets him clear his head. I hope so. Uggla was such a cluth hitter and Brave killer with the Marlins.

Andy

June 17th, 2011
11:08 am

As you mentioned, MLB players with 5+ years of service time can decline a demotion. If he were to decline, does his contract void and he becomes a free agent, or does he just go back to the MLB roster?

Regardless, if the team publicly loses confidence in him, he becomes a more disastrous version of Kawakami. If we still had Kelly Johnson on the bench, it would be tough to keep trotting Uggla out there every day. But considering his replacements would be Conrad, Diory or Hicks, we’ve gotta let him work it out.

Bob Rathbun

June 17th, 2011
11:09 am

Maybe we need to give him hats for his bats. Keep bats warm!! Or maybe the Joe Boo doll.

Hankie Aron

June 17th, 2011
11:10 am

Can’t see it

archie

June 17th, 2011
11:14 am

Jeff, here are some more feasible solutions. How about a platoon? Conrad is no everyday player, but he’s proven to have some pop in the bat, and his hustle in the field would certainly make up for Uggla’s lack of range. OR: Bat him 8th, until he figures it out. Pure and simple. Get him out of those RBI situations that he’s been stiffing on all year. Braves would be 5 games ahead of the Phillies if he was hitting .250, and had knocked in 15-20 more runs. 3.

Hankie Aron

June 17th, 2011
11:15 am

Honorable mention to Bob Rathbun for the calling your shot advice to Uggla but I think Sonny Clusters is the funniest guy on here. He kills me, although he might actually be JS himself

Sonny Clusters

June 17th, 2011
11:19 am

We remember when Chipper hurt a hammock bone and that was long before he hurt his adductor. Our adductor is pretty sore right now and we remain day to day. Not many people know that a lot of sportswriters have bad adductors. We are hoping Jeff never has this problem. Thinking some more about Uggla, we think maybe he should work some with McCann’s daddy. That may be offensive to Larry Parrish, though. We was wondering if Uggla won’t adjust his stance if maybe one night he’s going to screw himself into the ground and not be able to get up? We was also thinking they could let him run the race with the Drill and the Hammer and help him get some confidence. We sure hope he gets started soon.

Daniel

June 17th, 2011
11:19 am

Quick comments: 1) Uggla seems like the kinda guy that would sign off on going down to triple A for a short run without argument
2) It probably isn’t time for that…. yet.
3) Freddi, c’mon man, I am not saying he needs to go down but to say “that this is the first time someone has even mentioned it”? please, don’t treat us fans as retarded.

Steve

June 17th, 2011
11:21 am

Why does Uggla have to sign off on going down if he is not producing?

Hankie Aron

June 17th, 2011
11:22 am

Conrad is best suited as a pinch hitter only seeing the field here and there. I love the guy in the late innings pinch hitting but don’t want to see him in the field hardly at all. Uggla has done a good job in the field so his complete game hasn’t been a wash.

Jeff Schultz

June 17th, 2011
11:22 am

Andy — If he declines, he declines. Nothing changes. Braves aren’t going to outright release him, if that’s what you’re getting at. They’d have to pay off contract. But it’s not going to get to that point.

Jeff Schultz

June 17th, 2011
11:23 am

Archie — I’m sure if Uggla continues to struggle, a lot of things would be on the table.

Jeff Schultz

June 17th, 2011
11:23 am

Hankie Aron — Wish I could take credit for Mr. Clusters, but I can’t.

Hankie Aron

June 17th, 2011
11:24 am

I’ll take Uggla by a nose in the race against the hammer and drill, Uggs could be the screwdriver Sonny.

Jeff Schultz

June 17th, 2011
11:24 am

Mr. Clusters — I haven’t seen my adductor for, well, it’s been at least seven cheeseburgers now. …. I like the idea of the race with the Drill and the Hammer though.

Terry Pendleton

June 17th, 2011
11:25 am

See, I wasn’t so bad after all!

Steve

June 17th, 2011
11:25 am

Andy,what’s wrong with Diory?at least he makes contact.

stevie zero

June 17th, 2011
11:27 am

would love to see uggla change his approach altogether and use all fields. he swings like hes trying to end the world. lotta basehits out there in right

Steven

June 17th, 2011
11:27 am

A light-hitting second baseman, like Uggla, should be hitting seventh or eighth, not in the middle of the order. Since Gonzalez doesn’t seem to understand this — pretty basic — I’m of the opinion that he’s an incompetent manager. So make it McClougth, Kawakami, Uggla, and Gonzalez as poor acquisitions that Frank Wren has made. Maybe it’s time to get rid of both Wren and Gonzalez.

Kelly Johnson

June 17th, 2011
11:29 am

I’m your Huckleberry!

Sonny Clusters

June 17th, 2011
11:30 am

An adductor sounds like some kind of snake, doesn’t it? When somebody has an adductor go bad it can cause ‘em to be grumpy. It can make ‘em say things like, “Uh, go away” when somebody’s trying to interview ‘em. That’s just a heads up for ol’ Jeff. We was wondering if everybody on the team has an adductor? And we was wondering if anybody else ever hurt one while playing baseball?

DJ

June 17th, 2011
11:30 am

Please can we do the fundamentals!!!???? can anyone get a bunt down????????????????

Steve

June 17th, 2011
11:31 am

Steven you hit the nail right on the head.

stevie zero

June 17th, 2011
11:31 am

and oh yeh, any chance of moving chip and his lack of power out of 3 hole or do we have to wait for him to die?

Hankie Aron

June 17th, 2011
11:31 am

On a completely separate note, I do miss hearing Bobby Cox talking up every hitter in the box. Kinda gives like a little league feel to a serious big business game. Come on Brooksey, Jonesy, it was cool the way he was always trying to encourage the guys batting. It’s good he never got the chance to talk up Dan, then it would have been “Come on Uggley”.